2009 Chaleur Estate 1.5L eng
Comprising 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot – sourced from Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun Vineyards – the 2009 Chaleur Estate red is dominated by lusciously ripe morello cherry, with accents of peat, tobacco, licorice, allspice, and tactilely sizzling cinnamon. Plush though with underlying chew, it finishes with an invigoration and energy one scarcely anticipates from these grape varieties much less in such a warm vintage. Upchurch suggests that most of the tannin in a wine like this comes from the seeds and that the proclivity in Washington of seeds to truly ripen to nutty crunchiness (granted that precisely in 2009 this proved challenging) is what makes for wine with this sort of amazingly vibrant and stimulatingly tannic personality. And, he believes, incidentally, that punch-downs as opposed to pump-overs make for more advantageous extraction that preserves these virtues.
- David Schildknecht for Robert Parker